The building was once a sea-captain’s house, so it’s wholly appropriate that part of it now houses The Captain’s Daughters, a unique nautically themed tea and sundries shop on Commercial Street.
Co-owners Dani Niedzielski and Meghan O’Connor each first came to town to work for Marc Jacobs (“for a collective twenty years!” exclaims O’Connor), and “every afternoon in New York, we went to get tea together,” says Niedzielski. “It was a mental-health break, a moment of wellness in the day.”
That wellness escape became central both to their day-to-day lives and to their outlook on the future. “We asked ourselves, what if we could give that feeling to other people?” Niedzielski says. The two women took that desire to offer something unique to customers, paired it with their luxury retail backgrounds, and the tea shop opened in 2017.
They point out that retail environments are changing due to the ubiquitous presence of online shopping. “It means that brick and mortar shops have to offer something else, a transformational experience,” says Niedzielski. “That’s what we wanted to do: offer a space for these experiences, and help people with wellness.”
The tea experience is meant to be luxurious. Not everyone coming to town can afford a four-thousand-dollar painting, or even a four-hundred-dollar throw pillow; but a four-dollar tea, served in an environment that is special and affirming, can give that experience of indulgence. “We offer affordable luxuries,” agrees Niedzielski.
The tea comes first—and there are some fabulous teas here, with names that reflect the area and its history: Sail Away Earl Grey, Race Point Rooibos, Oolong Nook, Daughters’ Darjeeling. The real treat is the wall to the right where you can “taste” the various blends—through your nose—and decide what to order. I could spend an hour at that wall; essential oils have nothing on breathing in these teas!
The Captain’s Daughters offers an amazing 30 varieties of tea (both hot and iced) from fine tea estates all over the world, including the United States. There are black teas and green teas, white teas, apothecary offerings, CBD-infused teas, teas with moondust. And they’re not trying to convert anyone, either. “This doesn’t replace your morning coffee,” says Niedzielski. “It’s a different experience, something refreshing to reset you during the day.” Local partnerships have developed: the chef next door dusts food with teas, Strangers and Saints is developing tea-infused cocktails, and this year The Captain’s Daughters are reaching out to the wider Outer Cape community by participating in farmers’ markets in Truro and Wellfleet.
But it’s not just for the tea that people come to the shop. The complementary wellness products—from candles to clothing to soaps and more—are all hand-curated. “Everything here has a story,” says O’Connor. “Everything was made by a person. There are so many cool people up to so many cool things, and we get to be part of that.”
From the start, the women wanted to make the shop into something more than just retail; they wanted a community space where everything is informed by wellness. The furniture, designed by Niedzielski ‘s boyfriend, Nils Berg, is modular and shape-shifts into whatever is needed at the moment. “It’s a space for experiences,” she says. They offer art openings, workshops, events of all kinds. “We’ve increased our gallery shows to biweekly, so there’s even more of an opportunity for people to come out. We show a diverse body of work to balance the calendar. And we have pop-ups with different clothing designers from New York and Los Angeles and Boston that pair with the gallery shows to complement each other.”
They plan to further develop their year-round workshop offerings, appealing to the community’s current interests while presenting new and different kinds of experiences. And as part of their background at Marc Jacobs was doing charity events, there are plans to use their reach to help others. “We all have to stick together out here!” says Niedzielski.
And what about the name? Niedzielski tells the story: “We were out on the west coast researching teas and meeting with dealers, and that got us to thinking about the parallels between girls coming home from the trip with goodies and the old merchant ships bringing exotic stuff to port. We realized that no one talks about women on the ships, and we found out that they were prohibited—unless they were disguised as a man… or unless they were the captain’s daughters.” She laughs. “So there are all these stories of girls sailing ships to safety and reinventing themselves in the process, and we thought, that’s us. We’re going to captain the ship, we’re going to focus on getting others safely through.”
No matter what you’re navigating, there’s something at The Captain’s Daughters that will make your journey a better one!